Fallacies are common in writing and are very apparent in newspapers, advertisements – and even casual conversations and arguments.
If you didn’t know already, fallacies are illogical and faulty reasoning that may give a stronger impression to an argument than it really is – and is often false or exaggerated.
Here are some logical fallacies that you should know!
1. Hasty Generalization
Hasty generalizations are fallacies that are simply jumping to conclusions.
Example: All philosophy courses are hard
How to avoid this fallacy: Avoid words like ‘everybody’, ‘all’, ‘nothing’, and qualifying statements.
Stereotypes are a form of hasty generalization applied to people.
Example: Rich kids are spoiled brats
How to avoid this fallacy: Qualify and specify your statements; prove with evidence.
The severe reduction of choice, sometimes limited to an “either” or dilemma
Example: If he lived a stress-free life, he could avoid being sick
How to avoid this fallacy: Qualify your statements and identify all causes and effects.
4. Post-Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (Faulty Cause-Effect)
After this, therefore because of this – X happened before Y; therefore, X caused Y
Example: The recent abolition of the death penalty has caused an increase in crimes
How to avoid this fallacy: Make sure that time is not the only thing linking the cause and effect.
5. Red Herring
Involves a statement that has no direct relevance to the topic, acting as a distraction to the argument.
Example: Crimes are on the rise. Therefore, we had better restructure our income tax system.
How to avoid this fallacy: Be precise in distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant.